SMITHFIELD – The N.C. Department of Transportation has received federal approval to designate two bypass segments of U.S. 70 in Johnston, Wayne and Lenoir counties as Interstate 42.
The announcement was made today during a meeting of the I-42/U.S. 70 Corridor Commission in Smithfield. The commission, which advocates for improvements along this corridor east of Raleigh, includes elected and public officials from Carteret, Craven, Johnston, Lenoir and Wayne counties.
The I-42 designation marks North Carolina's second new interstate in eastern North Carolina, after the department received permission last year from the Federal Highway Administration to designate 37 miles of U.S. 264 in Wilson, Greene and Pitt counties as Interstate 587.
“This new Interstate shows our long-term commitment to having a high mobility corridor connecting our military bases, the Morehead City port, and the communities along the corridor with the national Interstate System," said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette, who spoke during the meeting. “This commitment will continue to support the economic vitality of the corridor and maintain the high level of mobility."
The I-42 approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation applies to the following stretches of U.S. 70, which are fully access-controlled highways with bridges, ramps and loops and wide, paved shoulders:
Engineers with the NCDOT still have to work out the logistics of the change, including drawing up the plans for a contractor to install the interstate signage and mile markers. A timeline will be announced later this year.
These two segments now meet interstate standards. The NCDOT will be upgrading the rest of that same corridor so it, too can be designated as I-42 in the future. In 2016, the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials conditionally gave the state permission to designate U.S. 70 between Raleigh and Morehead City as future I-42.